To obtain a patent number, an inventor must determine that the invention is eligible to receive a patent, conduct a search for similar patented items, submit an application, and pay the fees, reports the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The applicant then cooperates with the examiner during the review process.
To be eligible to receive a patent, an item must be a novel and non-obvious machine, process, manufactured article, ornamental design or asexually produced variety of plant, according to the USPTO. Before applying for a patent, an inventor must conduct a thorough search of domestic and foreign sources to determine that someone else hasn't already publicly disclosed the item. Patent searches are comprehensive, and many inventors hire patent attorneys to conduct them. If the search yields no results, inventors can file provisional or nonprovisional standard or expedited applications online through the USPTO electronic filing system. Fees include a basic fee, search fee, examination fee, issue fee and sometimes an excess claims fee.
Once the inventor files the initial patent application, an examiner notifies the applicant of any deficiencies in the application, states the USPTO. The applicant must correct the application within the time period the examiner specifies or face a penalty fee. If the examiner rejects the application again, the applicant has another chance to amend it and resubmit. After two rejections, the applicant can appeal to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. If the USPTO accepts the application, the inventor receives a notice of allowance and then a patent grant.